ITV taps BBC for program topper

Pickard replaces Liddiment at end of year

LONDON — In a surprise move, ITV announced Wednesday the appointment of Nigel Pickard, the BBC’s head of children’s programming, as its new director or programming, just weeks after Channel 5’s Dawn Airey rejected the role of chief exec.

He replaces David Liddiment who plans to leave the commercial web by the end of the year after more than five years with the network. The BBC exec is expected to take a different approach to Liddiment, with the emphasis on a more team-oriented management style.

Pickard, who has spent much of his career in commercial television, joined the BBC in October 2000 leaving his post as controller of children’s and youth programs at ITV, a position he held from January 1998.

In addition to programming for BBC1 and BBC2, he was responsible for the development and launch this year of two new BBC kids’ channels, CBBC and Cbeebies.

At ITV he commissioned the highly successful Saturday morning programs “SMTV” and “CD:UK,” then hosted by Ant and Dec, which took back the ratings lead from the BBC after 12 years.

Prior to joining ITV in 1998, Pickard was VP of production and general manager of Flextech Television’s game show channel Challenge TV. He joined Flextech from Scottish Television where he was controller of entertainment and drama features.

In his early career he spent many years in a variety of production roles with ITV companies TVS and Southern Television.

Speaking about Pickard’s appointment, Clive Jones, joint managing director, ITV said: “Nigel has developed a strong reputation in both broadcasting and production and his skills will be a great complement to Jim Hytner’s marketing expertise and David Bergg’s strengths in scheduling. He will lead a highly talented commissioning team to maximise the increased program investment already committed for next year, with the full support of ITV’s shareholders.”

Pickard added: “The chance to return to ITV when the corporate focus is so clearly on the core channel business is something I just couldn’t turn down.”